Gossage's ring was back in the hotel room, protected by his wife. At the annual post-induction dinner that honors all the attending Hall of Famers, Williams was given his ring by Sparky Anderson, one of the 17 managers that preceded him into the Hall.
"Sparky gave me this Casey Stengel look and said, 'I told you it would be all right,'" said Williams, whose last game as a manager came with the Seattle Mariners in 1988 and had almost given up the ghost of ever earning admission to the Hall.
Gossage, a reliever by trade, was presented his ring by Sandy Koufax, the legendary Dodgers left-hander.
"That was very special. Sandy Koufax?" said Gossage, who went in wearing a Yankees cap. "It doesn't get any better than that, man."
The two men were interviewed exclusively by MLB.com on Monday morning just before making their final official appearance of this year's Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. They were back out behind the stage at the Clark Sports Center, preparing to tape a segment of the Legend's Series to be broadcast on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET Monday night.
Only a day earlier, their nerves jangling and their emotions running high, the pair who once teamed as manager and closer for the San Diego Padres, circa 1984-85, endured the ritual of accepting their plaques and making speeches to the assembled multitude -- a crowd of 14,000 estimated by Hall of Fame officials.
"It was built up so much that by the time I got up there, I thought I was going to do something in my pants," the 79-year-old Williams said. "I screwed up in my speech because I got the pages mixed up. There were things I wanted to say and I didn't get to say them. I nearly broke down a couple of times. I took a few deep breaths and looked down [at my wife] Norma."
2008 Induction Ceremony
Those plaques were hung in the red-brick museum across town on Main Street for all eternity on Sunday night and now hang to the right of the famous 1939 inaugural class that included Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. The plaques of Gossage, Williams, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, manager Billy Southworth and owners Walter O'Malley and Barney Dreyfuss now glisten under their perpetual spotlights.
Gossage said his predominant feeling on Monday was relief.
"This experience exceeded my expectations, exceeded it by multiples, maybe 10 times," Gossage said. "I still can't comprehend all this. I don't think this is ever going to register. I keep pinching myself and saying, 'Is this real?' I'm just amazed at the whole experience. At times, you wondered what would it be like to be a Hall of Famer? That was so far out there that it was like a pipe dream. You didn't even want to think about it. It seemed unattainable. Unachievable."
Gossage, who last pitched for the Mariners in 1994, had to wait the requisite five years before going on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for a possible stretch of 15 years. He didn't make the grade the first eight times as other relievers did: Dennis Eckersley and Bruce Sutter being the last before Gossage in his era to be honored.
During that time, Gossage went through different stages of emotion: from incredulity to anger and then resignation after his mother, Susanne, died in 2006. Gossage had always hoped that his mother would be alive and sitting in the audience on Sunday. His father, Jake, passed away when he was a junior in high school.
But all those emotions evaporated after Gossage received the call this past January saying he had been elected.
"I guess the ninth time was the charm," he said. "My mother always told me that good things happen for those who wait. There's always a reason why something happens."
Leading up to the big day, Gossage said he was plagued with anxiety and nightmares, relaying on Saturday that he had dreamed about forgetting his dress suit and wearing tacky sweats to the induction. In the end, he showed up looking debonair in a tan sports jacket and white slacks while Williams wore a black suit.
"Was that a rookie move?" he asked.
Gossage's speech was filled with imperfections and, like Williams, he also lost his place. It took 10 minutes before he broke down in tears, reminiscing about the players and coaches, now deceased, who weren't there to share his Hall of Fame experience.
Gossage wrote the speech himself, but he didn't begin the process until less than a month ago, he said.
"I thought I'd have more feel for it the closer I got," Gossage said. "Rollie [Fingers] told me he started writing his a week after he got elected. I didn't want to keep changing it. Rollie said, 'I changed it a hundred times.' That's why I didn't start writing it early because I'd just beat myself up over it."
From here, Gossage will fly home to Colorado Springs and continue to stay busy. Getting away from the six-month buildup from election to induction will give him a nice break.
"As soon as I sit down away from all this, I'll probably crash," Gossage said.
Williams and his wife drove here from their home in Las Vegas and plan a return trip with a number of stops.
"We have a few things planned," Williams said.
They were joined on Sunday by 15 members of his local Thursday lunch club, guys who all wore yellow T-shirts to the induction, signaling their friend's association with the A's.
"I've missed the last four Thursdays," said Williams, who went in wearing an Oakland cap after managing that team to victories in the 1972-73 World Series. "But they came here, so they missed the last Thursday, also."
Maybe now life can get back to normal. But then again, maybe not.
"While you're in the middle of all this, it's hard to figure the whole thing out," Williams said. "I think we'll realize it next year when we come back."